If you’re in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year, don’t fret! Planning a Thanksgiving menu is a lot easier than you may expect. And when done right, you can serve up a holiday meal that your loved ones will never forget.
To learn how to plan a menu for Thanksgiving, take a look at this quick and easy guide below.
First Things First: Decide on a Main Dish
To plan a tasty Thanksgiving menu, start by picking your main dish. That way, you can easily plan your sides around it.
Turkey is the most popular main dish to serve for the holiday. It’s a healthier alternative to red meats. Plus, it’s versatile as you can roast it, smoke it, deep fry it, and more. As a general rule of thumb, plan for 1 to 1.5 pounds of turkey per person.
Ham is a delicious alternative to turkey. So much so, that many people serve ham right alongside their turkey. If you plan to serve a roasted, bone-in ham for dinner, allow for approximately half a pound per person.
Roast Beef or Prime Rib
Hearty and delicious, nothing beats slices of tender and flavorful roast beef for dinner. Not only is it a tasty substitute for turkey, but it’s also a great option for your loved ones who do not eat pork. When planning to serve roast beef, figure about a third of a pound per person.
As more and more people make the switch to a plant-based diet, you might consider trying a vegetarian or vegan main dish to replace a traditional turkey. You can try a meat substitute like tofu or soy meat to make a plant-based roast or casserole.
Add Your Sides
Now that you’ve picked out a main dish, it’s time to plan your sides. Here are a handful of ideas to start:
Stuffing is one of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes, and there are many ways to make it. You can add herbs like rosemary, sage, or thyme for added flavor, or use cornbread or dried cranberries to add a touch of sweetness.
Mostly everyone likes mashed potatoes. And like stuffing, you can get really creative with how you make it. From garlic mashed potatoes to loaded mashed potatoes, this side dish offers the ultimate versatility. Plus, you can make a healthier alternative by using sweet potatoes or cauliflower instead.
No Thanksgiving is complete without gravy, and lots of it. You can make a savory meat or veggie gravy seasoned with dried herbs like thyme or rosemary. And of course, homemade is always better, but the boxed kind works just as well when you’re in a pinch.
Whether you roast them, steam them, or even air fry them, veggies are a must-have at every Thanksgiving table. Green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, or collard greens are popular picks, but you can also switch it up with a seasonal veggie like butternut squash or pumpkin.
While not exactly a side dish, bread is one of those things that make every meal better. To keep it traditional, serve up baskets of hot, buttery cornbread, biscuits, or dinner rolls to your guests. Or for a fun alternative, try slicing up an herb focaccia bread or fruit and nut loaf to spice things up.
Make Room for Dessert
You can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without some kind of dessert. So here are a few dessert options to consider to complete the meal:
When it comes to pie flavors, you can’t go wrong with apple, pecan, or sweet potato. But if you decide on something else like pumpkin pie or even peach cobbler, be sure to use seasonal produce to ensure freshness and tastiness.
Cakes or Cheesecakes
Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving pie, why not mix it up by serving cake? Pound cake, red velvet cake, or cheesecake make a nice alternative to pie. Plus, they’re easy to decorate, which makes for a fun bonding activity to try with little ones.
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